The Story of Gum

  • Both Aztecs and Mayans chewed chicle, a tree resin from the sapodilla tree
  • Frank Sinatra was buried with a pack of Black Jack chewing gum, among other personal items
  • Chewing gum is a $19 billion per year industry, growing at a rate of 7% every year
  • In 1907, the first gumballs were sold for a penny in gumball machines 
  • In 1964, Nasa gave sugarless gum to astronauts on the Gemini V space mission
  • "Gum is only another opiate to make the masses forget their capitalistic misery" - Leon Trotsky 
  • A ban was enacted in Singapore in 1992, which bans both import and sales of chewing gum
  • Bubble gum was first invented in 1928 by Walter Diemer
  • Starting in 1891, William Wrigley Jr. made chewing gum an iconic symbol of the American Dream
  • Known as the "Candy Bomber", Gail Halvorsen dropped gum from his plane to children during WWII
  • In the 1920s, chicleros arrived in Quintana Roo to tap the chico zapote tree for chicle
  • Children would work as gum peddlers to help support their families, making up to 50¢ a day
  • The first commercially made biodegradable gum was Chicza Rainforest Gum, still in production today
  • Its a tradition to leave your chewed gum on The Market Theater Gum Wall in Seatle 


GUM: An American Dream is a feature-length documentary that will change the way you look at gum (and the world it’s chewed in) forever.

From the ingenuity, creativity and street smarts that brought us this sticky confection to the mess we are making of it on the streets of our fair cities – GUM: An American Dream is a unique examination of human progress, social etiquette, pop culture, the advertising boom and the ever-changing American Dream. All seen through the lens of one of the most inert substances known to man… chewing gum.

You’ll meet rich warlords, desperate inventors, volatile military leaders, ambitious industrial magnates, gum-packing war heroes, swinging hippies, gum-chewing rockers and movie stars who smack of attitude.

Gum stretches from the mastic trees of Ancient Greece, through the pine forests of North America, to the jungles of the Yucatan, the mean streets of turn-of-the-century Chicago and New York right onto the sticky black-spotted streets of the 21st Century.

Shot around the world, gum sticks to everything on four continents, and reveals the astonishing complexities of our relationship with that very first disposable product – chewing gum.

And ultimately, GUM: An American Dream might just answer the age-old question: Can we walk and chew gum at the same time?

GUM: An American Dream. Everything you ever wondered, hoped, dreamed, thought, knew or didn’t know about gum…
…and then some.



  • June 27, 2013 - 1:33 pm | Permalink

    I love gum and was fortunate enough to be in Toronto last summer when they were filming for the documentary. My three girlfriends and I were celebrating our 50th birthdays and went out shopping one afternoon after a run on the beach … only to be approached by a film crew. Imagine our excitement (no makeup … running clothes)! But when we found out what the topic was we all had opinions … I look forward to seeing the final piece. I have always been a gum fanatic and love this take on the subject!!!

  • Kristy
    September 26, 2012 - 2:53 pm | Permalink

    Fun topic, thanks for the fascinating facts.

    I don’t like gum. I might enjoy the initial taste but what to do with the nasty blob once the flavour is gone?
    Apparently, spit it in the street…
    Somehow spitting gum in the street seems to be a more acceptable form of littering. People who wouldn’t dream of dropping the wrapper, feel no compunction in spitting their gum on the ground to adhere to the sole of the next ‘soul’s’ shoe and deface the public walkways and pavers.

    Don’t get me started on the masticating chewers… no offence to the non offensive chewers out there enjoy and continue chewing responsibly!

  • September 14, 2012 - 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Hope we get invited to the “opening night”–look forward to seeing the documentary. And we will look out for graphics, particularly with the “Four Ladies”–which is “cool” indeed.
    Good luck and have fun creating! Thanks for contacting us, John.

  • LDH
    September 7, 2012 - 8:10 am | Permalink

    I LOVE GUM – I can’t hum and chew gum but I’ve had it stuck to my bum and felt pretty dum. Anyhoo, I prefer a stick of gum and I like spearmint over peppermint gum – My first memory of gum would be Chiclets; all the different colored boxes with different flavors of gum; my favorite being the fruit one with multicolored gum in each box. At Hallowe’en I loved the mini 2 piece gum pack and who can’t forget the Tiny Chiclets pouch and pouring the whole thing in your mouth to chew.

  • Marcia
    August 23, 2012 - 7:27 pm | Permalink

    It’s really hard to find gum in stick form anymore. I’ve taken a stand on the wasteful blister packs that are being used now. When I was in Amsterdam, I found a candy store that sold double packs of Wrigley’s gum in stick form! Of course I bought Doublemint, my favourite.

  • Bazooka Joe
    August 22, 2012 - 10:25 pm | Permalink

    Gum chewing is illegal in Singapore…… because of inappropriate discarding. They’re on the right track. Ever run your hands under a table in a restaurant? Wads of rubbery balls, hard as cement. I used to be a waiter and would have to scrape tthose disgusting clumps off.

  • August 22, 2012 - 8:55 pm | Permalink

    For sure, the best urban myth is the ‘spider eggs in Bubble Yum’ story. I gobbled through packs of that stuff when I was a fat kid. Here’s one link to the myth:

    I can still taste the plastic, white pasty stick of pink gum that came with hockey cards. I’m convinced it went stale the day after they packed it.

    More to come. You guys are on to something bigger than a Hubba Bubba bubble.

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